Heather Reichenbach didn’t face any challengers in the November Warsaw School Board race, but she’s looking forward to the challenges of serving the community.
She was sworn in at the Jan. 6 reorganizational board meeting.
The seed of serving on the board as a way to give back started to grow even before she and her family moved to Warsaw.
When Heather and her husband, Brian, were looking at relocating to a community, one of the key components of their decision was schools because they had two young children. Jonah was 3 and Claire was 1 at the time; they are in fifth and third grade now at Madison Elementary.
“We were impressed when we visited Warsaw,” she said. “We had heard good things, and people had obvious pride in Warsaw Schools. So I was taken with that. As a person who used to teach, I thought that was a strong piece for having a place to settle.”
Since moving to Warsaw over seven years ago, she’s become very involved with the schools, volunteering in the classrooms, on field trips and with the PTO; and serving on curriculum, calendar and strategic planning committees at the district level.
“I have grown to really respect what is happening at Warsaw Schools. I think it went from where we moved, to being good, to being a highly kind of trend-setting school district, and I’m excited about that energy,” Heather said.
She highlighted some of the “good things going on” within WCS, including the Warsaw Area Career Center, Washington STEM Academy and the mobile STEM bus.
“I think those are all things that kind of are putting us on the map and I think we’re doing great things, but I also think there is room for improvement, too,” she said.
To help her in her new role as school board member, Heather said she brings her past experiences as an educator and support staff member, along with being a parent and community member.
“This is our community, and I thought I’d like to give back to the community in some way,” she said as to why she decided to run for the board seat when it became open.
Heather replaced Delores Hearn, who could not run for re-election because of term limits.
Finding out she wouldn’t have opposition in the November race was both a relief and disappointment to her.
“In some form, it was a relief because I really wanted to be on the school board and I was excited I would be at that point,” she said. “In other ways, I was kind of hoping there would be a challenger so I could ‘prove’ myself as to why I do feel that I’m a good person to be serving my community on the school board. But, I also feel like I have enough friends and people that I know that I’ve been able to advocate as to why I want to be on the school board, informally. As time has gone on, I don’t feel that’s a loss, but as a former American government teacher and a former history teacher, a campaign would have been a little exciting.”
Over the course of her first four-year term, she said there will be a number of issues the board will need to tackle.
“I think there’s lots of challenges in education today, and I think Warsaw’s challenges probably are not unlike a lot of school districts in Indiana and around the country,” she said. “I think, as always, budget concerns with funding for schools and such is always key in making sure that our teachers and our schools have what they need to educate our students to be the best.”
Other issues she thinks will come up include new federal mandates for health insurance for school employees; gifted and talented curriculum and programs; and having a good future for the community, which hinges on having a good school system.
She’s aware of the upcoming building project referendum, including the building of a new Lincoln Elementary School, but said she is still getting versed on where the school system is with that and all of the different components.
“As I understand it, that will kind of be at the forefront of our agenda in the next (few months),” she said.
Having kids in the school system will be a benefit for her on the board, she said.
“Having kids in the school system I think gives me an insight. I see how schools communicate with parents, how the schools communicate with the community. It allows me to know the programs that are offered by Warsaw Schools and be familiar with those things,” she said. “It also gives me a different perspective as a board member coming in when I hear about those things … and evaluate things in a different way than someone without kids in the system. And I also think it provides a desire to have strong education because these are my kids we’re talking about and they deserve the best, as do all of the kids in our community. So having that in the forefront of my mind as a parent and board member is a definite asset to the board.”
Asked what she wanted people to know about her as a person and school board member, Heather said, “I would hope that people value my sense of education and commitment to community. That I care very much in making Warsaw an education model that other districts look to. My door is always open.”
(Story By The Times Union)